11 September 2011

Obligatory 9/11 post

On September 11, 2001, I was in fifth grade and learned about the attacks from a school announcement. I first saw the video of the plane crashes in the World Trade Center and Pentagon when I came home after school. This event was so serious that NEARLY EVERY broadcast channel jumped from regular programming to news coverage. Then came the war in Afghanistan a month later, and still continuing to this day with a drawdown a few years to come. The crazy thing was that the summer before 9/11 I visited China with my family, and to have flown on an airliner just a month before a terrorist hijacking...wow. I'm lucky my flight wasn't targeted. 10 years later, do we still have the same freedom we as americans were still able to have? The USA PATRIOT Act (this year extended by Obama til 2015) loosened restrictions on communications surveillance and wiretapping.

And look at all the hysteria by the Transportation Security Administration in the wake of thwarted, unsuccessful terrorist plots. First, in 2006 the TSA banned liquid bottles after some terrorists in the UK tried smuggling liquid explosives into a flight to North America. Then after the failed underwear bomber came body scanners. Even though they aren't the best at catching weapons, they're still around. And recently all those horror stories about excessive intrusion of personal privacy in pat down searches, such as elderly people needing to remove adult diapers or the man with a urostomy bag whose pat down got him wet. Doesn't this send the message to terrorists that they're winning? In comparison to what happened in Oklahoma City on 4/19/1995 when the federal government just treated Timothy McVeigh as a kook and prosecuted, convicted, and executed him? Rather than indicate that McVeigh would successfully scare the pants off everyone in America?

In contrast to what Clinton did to McVeigh, George W. Bush decided to go to war with Afghanistan and rejected an offer by the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden if the US ended military action in Afghanistan. (After the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Clinton administration aggressively sought bin Laden through military actions in the Middle East.) On May 1, 2011, US special forces finally killed bin Laden in Pakistan; Obama said in a 2008 presidential debate, "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority." As screwy as Obama's leadership may be right now, at least this is a promise kept.

And apparently, Islamic terrorism may be a bit overblown:

Around the 4:50 mark of the video, this is where the "treat terrorists like kooks" debate begins between Thom Hartmann and A.W.R. Hawkins.

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